The revamped Uganda Airlines will start regional flights in July, about three months after delivery of two Bombardier CRJ900 jets, works minister Monica Ntege Azuba has said. The jets are expected to touch down at Entebbe International Airport on April 23, then Uganda Airlines will start the process of getting Air Operator Certification (AOC) with the Civil Aviation Authority.
“This process has five phases and will take about 90 days to complete, setting the timeline for start of commercial operations to July 2019. The stages include formal application of flight license, document evaluation, demonstration and inspection of aircrafts and issuance of air operation certification,” Azuba said.
Speaking during a press conference at the ministry offices in Kampala yesterday, she said Uganda Airlines would also be required to complete flight tests on routes to be operated. Flight tests will allow the airline crew to meet minimum hours of issuance of the AOC and validation or endorsement of the crew licenses as per regulation.
“Commercial airline operations can only start after completion of these processes and issuance of the AOC. However, during this 90-day certification process, Bombardier will be showcasing the CRJ900 new cabin to other countries across Africa as a marketing strategy,” she said.
Azuba cited other key activities such as acquisition of spare parts, signing supplier contracts, branding, setting of commercial offices, online payment and booking rollout, which must be completed in 90 days. Relatedly, while appearing before the Parliament’s committee on physical infrastructure yesterday, works state minister Aggrey Bagiire said upon setting off from Canada, the planes flying via Iceland will make a stopover in the Netherlands for acquisition of spare parts.
“From the Netherlands, they will leave for Cairo before leaving for Cairo and finally land in Entebbe on April 23,” Bagiire said.
The MPs, who had summoned Azuba to explain the change in dates of delivery of the planes, questioned her why there had been a delay in delivery of the planes. The planes were earlier expected in the country on April 8. Azuba had appeared before the committee alongside Bagiire and other technical officers, including Eng. Ephraim Bagyenda, the chief executive officer of Uganda Airlines.
The officials, however, attributed the delay to the late payment of the manufacturer of the aircrafts, saying the balance for the planes had only been paid recently after Parliament’s approval of sh280b supplementary expenditure to cater for investment costs in the revival of the Uganda National Airline Company Limited. Part of the money, was used for last payment of bombardier aircrafts as well as deposit for two A33O-800neo airbuses.
It is said $41.55m was paid to Bombardier as final payment for the two CRJ900 jets, while a deposit of $20m was paid for the airbuses. Bagiire explained that once AOC acquisition process is done, the national carrier will be designated to operate in countries in accordance to provisions of Bilateral Air Services Agreements (BASAs).
BASAs are agreements two nations sign to allow international commercial air transport services between their territories. Bagire said Uganda currently has signed 47 BASAs which will need to be activated. Uganda has BASAs with several countries, including Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia and South Africa.